For transit passengers who use the SeaBus on a daily basis, particularly during the evening and late-night off-peak hours, the era of having to wait 30 minutes for a ferry is about to end.
Beginning in mid-January 2017, TransLink plans to increase SeaBus’ off-peak and late-night operating frequencies to every 15 minutes, even on weekends. There will no longer be any lengthy half-hour sailings.
This is made possible by the Mayor’s Council’s recent approval of the public transit authority’s $2-billion Phase One plan for transit improvements.
SeaBus service will be improved again in late-2018, or possibly early-2019, when a new third replacement vessel arrives, at which point the ferry service between downtown Vancouver and Lonsdale Quay will operate every 10 minutes during the morning and evening peak hours.
It is expected that the third new ferry vessel will arrive in late-2018 or early-2019. TransLink has budgeted $31.2 million for the construction cost and an annual operating budget increase of $4.2 million to operate the increased service frequencies.
The SeaBus service improvements are part of the the Mayor’s Council’s $2-billion Phase One plan, which was approved last month. It also includes increases to local bus services, five new B-Line rapid bus routes, 28 new train cars for the Expo and Millennium, 22 new train cars for the Canada Line, and funding for detailed planning work for the Broadway extension of the Millennium Line and Surrey light rail transit network.
The 1976-built Burrard Beaver vessel recently completed a $1-million renovation to extend its lifespan by another six years, until a new replacement vessel is placed into service. The upgrades included repairs to the hull, new paint job, new carpets, new lighting, and new panels added to the bridge.
While the Burrard Beaver will return to service beginning next month, its sister vessel, the Burrard Otter, will be fully decommissioned from service. It will switch places as SeaBus’ new maintenance spare ferry vessel.
Over the last few years, two new replacement ferries have been introduced to the SeaBus fleet.
The BC-built MV Burrard Pacific Breeze entered service in 2009 in time for the Olympics while the Singapore-built Burrard Otter II arrived in 2014. There are only slight exterior differences between the two newest vessels, with the Singapore vessel featuring larger passenger windows for more optimal views of the harbour.
Both SeaBus ferry terminals on both sides of Burrard Inlet are currently undergoing a $12.5-million exterior retrofit that includes a new roof, metal cladding, and windows. Some maintenance work is also being performed on SeaBus’ administration and maintenance building next to the Lonsdale Quay terminal.
Construction on the terminal retrofits began this spring and is slated for a completion in mid-2018.
At this time, there are no plans to renovate the interior of the terminals to improve passenger experience.
Last year, SeaBus recorded over six million boardings last year, with an average of 18,170 per weekday, 15,690 each Saturday, and 11,620 each Sunday and holiday.